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April 19, 2017

Mall Walking – Now You’re Talking

The White Rose Centre isn’t just for shopping–you can also get your Mall Walking on! 

But what is Mall Walking I hear you cry? Well, Mall Walking is an idea that came over from America and was picked up by the White Rose Centre in Leeds, the very first shopping centre in the UK to try this idea. So far it has been highly successful. They have been supporting mall walkers since the centre opened; which turned 20 years old in March! (Twenty! Am I really that old?)

Every morning, the centre opens its doors at 8am, before the retailers open so that people of any age can come and ‘walk the mall.’ Opening up early like this allows people to walk in a safe, well-lit, heated space without any worries about walking alone, weather conditions, or getting lost. Each lap is roughly half a mile and so it provides a decent amount of exercise without being too taxing – no hills!

People can come any day of the week and can arrive at any time; although the centre starts to get busy from 10am.  There is no pressure to walk a certain speed or a certain distance; people walk in their own time. As people arrive they sign in and say hello to the other walkers and then set off- walking as far as they want. It is a great way to socialise- there are over 50 mall walkers on the books and so there’s almost always someone to have a chat and walk around with.

Harry has been coming for 16 years. He is 87 and comes three times a week, walkings roughly 2 miles a day (six laps). He worked out that over time he has walked over 8000 miles – he could have walked to America! Harry learned about mall walking from his GP and came with his wife until she passed away. He has kept coming for the exercise but mostly for the social life. He says mall walking gives him something to get up and dressed for – a reason to get out of bed.

The walkers wear green badges to let people know what they are doing and also so they can get their discounted hot drinks at McDonalds. Tea and coffee after their walk is only £1 per cup. The centre also puts on a Easter and Christmas meet up where they provide breakfast, drinks, quizzes and prizes.

Here at Time to Shine we love the idea of Mall Walkers. Anything that encourages people to socialise and give themselves something to get up for is great with us. The walkers I spoke to are keen to get new recruits for the walking gang – at one point they had over 200 on their books but it has dwindled a bit recently. They are a really welcoming bunch and this is an excellent, safe way to get some gentle exercise.

We will be at the centre on the 20th of April with some of the walkers talking about Time to Shine, Mall Walking and The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. If you are nearby please pop and see us – we would love to talk to you.